Quebec municipalities, province adapting infrastructure to deal with climate change

Click to play video: 'New measures to combat extreme weather'
New measures to combat extreme weather
Several Montreal municipalities are implementing new measures to deal with extreme weather conditions, like extreme heat and flash flooding. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines is live on location from Parc Dickie Moore in Parc-Extension with the story – Jul 19, 2023

From frequent flash flooding to extreme heat, the climate is changing before our eyes.

The question is, how are municipalities and the province of Quebec adapting to this dramatic weather?

Thursday’s torrential rains led to serious flooding of city streets and provincial highways. A month’s worth of rain, 85 millimetres, fell in the span of roughly two hours.

According to the City of Montreal and the Quebec Transport Ministry, no infrastructure could handle the unprecedented volume of rain.

In reaction, the city says it is adapting its infrastructure to better handle heavy downpours.

Sponge parks, like Dickie Moore Park in Parc-Extension, are part of the solution.

The city is building three new water reservoirs to drain the rainfall.

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While on the surface they are public play areas, below is a water retention basin meant to naturally collect rainwater, diverting it from the sewer system, which can overflow, leading to localized flooding.

Brewster Park in Lachine will be transformed into a retention basin.

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The green space off 44th Avenue will be redeveloped into a natural sponge, according to the mayor, reducing the risk of flooding.

“We are taking advantage of the refurbishment of 44th Avenue to redevelop Brewster Park. This will be our first park to receive rainwater from the mineralized areas that surround it. We can’t wait to inaugurate this new children’s park with you, which will respect nature,” Lachine Mayor Maja Vodanovic said.

Transports Québec

Over the next 10 years, changing weather has led the Transport Ministry to invest $535 million in preventive measures.

The money, according to spokesperson Louis-André Bertrand, is allocated to shoring up roadways and fending off erosion.

Bertrand said the focus will be along the St. Lawrence River.

“Once we’re building new structures, that’s the moment we use the latest knowledge, making them more resilient to climate change and rising sea levels and heavy amounts of rain,” Bertrand said.

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For the last two years, Hydro-Québec has been consulting climate experts and studying data to adopt its first climate change adaptation plan.

“This is the worst fire season Quebec has seen in decades,” Hydro-Québec spokesperson Francis Labbé said.

Forest fires, heavy winds and ice storms have led to hundreds of thousands losing power.

The provincial utility giant has been on the defensive for the past six months dealing with extreme weather.

The raging fires in northern Quebec have been a major concern, Labbé said.

Heavy smoke carrying particulates causes power lines to shut down as a safety measure.

Labbé said Hydro plans to enlarge the corridors, giving more space between the wires and the trees.

Priced at $100 billion, burying the electrical network underground is something Labbé said is too costly.

Eleven per cent of the grid is buried underground. Hydro says it is increasing that number, burying wires in new developments.

“When it is possible, we do bury. We have to work with the cities to do that. It’s not something we do on our own. It’s an operation that is more complex,” Labbé said.

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Hydro-Québec says it has adapted its crew deployment strategy to better tackle storm damage at a quicker pace.

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